President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are among the politicians whose past criticisms of the Electoral College system would draw new scrutiny if there is a split verdict in this year’s presidential election.
National and swing state polls suggest it’s possible Republican Mitt Romney could win this year’s popular vote while Obama triumphs in the Electoral College – potentially marking the second time the rare split in outcomes has occurred in the last 12 years.
The last time it happened was in 2000, when Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote but lost where it mattered. George W. Bush won Florida’s disputed recount, propelling him to 271 electoral votes – one more than he needed to take the White House.
The outcome triggered an intense – if shortlived – debate over reforming the Electoral College. Today, lawmakers in Washington are no closer to agreeing on whether to change the rules of how someone wins the presidency.
Here’s a snapshot of where top lawmakers have came down on a controversial issue that’s once again in the political spotlight.
President Obama – Obama said he supported eliminating the Electoral College as a Senate candidate during a WTTW television debate against Republican Alan Keyes in 2004.
When asked, “Yes or no, eliminate the Electoral College?” Obama responded, “Yes … I think, at this point, this is breaking down.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – Shortly after the 2000 election, as a newly-minted Senator-elect, Clinton called for direct elections of the president. She argued the country has changed since the Electoral College was put in place.
“We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago,” Clinton said at a news conference.
“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) – Five days after the 2000 election, Schumer called the U.S. voting system “antediluvian” and called for a study of simplified procedures. He, too, favored scrapping the Electoral College but said three-fourths of the states would never ratify an amendment.
“It won’t happen,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
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